Multiple injuries in Superior refinery explosion

Multiple injuries in Superior refinery explosion

An explosion and asphalt fire at a Wisconsin oil refinery on Thursday sent huge plumes of smoke into the air that pollution experts said nearly certainly contains large amounts of toxins, posing a serious health risk to those living downwind.

Hospital officials said only one of the injured was seriously hurt, with what was described as a blast injury.

About 180 people work at the refinery, built in 1950.

Panger earlier said the fire was out, but Superior police tweeted that the fire has reignited but that there is no need for residents to evacuate.

Many of Superior's main roads were clogged to gridlock with traffic through the afternoon as residents tried to move away from the smoke plume or retrieve loved ones who were evacuating. She said the windows shook. She also wondered if a plane had crashed and feared her house might collapse.

Another tank caught fire at 3:15 p.m., a local ABC affiliate reported, citing Douglas County authorities.

By lunchtime, they had to go.

The black smoke is caused by the asphalt burning, and environmental groups are monitoring air quality.




"It was scary", Tudor said. I put the cats in my vehicle, ... we grabbed our toothbrushes and just left.

Tudor, a scientist at a research company, said residents were not told much about the potential danger, what was in the smoke or why it was so black.

Though it wasn't certain what was in the tank that burned, oil smoke can contain a mix of noxious hydrocarbons and other chemicals with potential short- and long-term health effects. It said the smoke probably would not affect Duluth, a city of about 87,000.

Specialists from Williams Fire & Hazard Control of Port Arthur, Texas were hired by Husky Energy and were flying to the scene on Thursday to direct efforts to battle the blaze.

Officials at Enbridge Energy, which owns a massive oil pipeline terminal and storage facility with millions of gallons of petroleum products stored near the refinery, said their facility was not impacted.

Calgary-Alberta-based Husky Energy refinery bought the refinery from Indianapolis-based Calumet Specialty Products Partners past year for over $490 million.

Superior Battalion Chief Scott Gordon has been in touch with the National Guard for a potential response. Those violations were marked as settled and the problems solved by the end of that year. It processes both heavy crude from the Canadian tar sands in Alberta and lighter North Dakota Bakken crude.

CBS News' Alex Derosier contributed reporting.

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